New Age Islam
Tue Mar 05 2024, 06:37 PM

Islamic World News ( 8 March 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Pak Brigadier tried to Create Islamic Caliphate

New Age Islam News Bureau

8 March 2012

 Rape Continues to be Used as Tool to Suppress Women: Asian Human Rights Commission

 Those who commit Human Rights abuses cannot preach to Sri Lanka

 Hamid Karzai under fire on Afghan women's rights

 British terrorist with links to 7/7 'White Widow' was 'captured on bus while disguised as woman'

 Indian journalist arrested over Israel embassy attack

 SIMI men now in social activists’ garb

 NYPD: Relations with Muslims in region are strong

 Muslim and African nations walk out of UN panel on gay rights

 Iran's supreme leader says Obama comments are 'window of opportunity'

 Former US soldier accused of trying to join Somali terror group, al-Shabaab

 Nigeria: Radical Islamist sect sets another school ablaze amid international watchdog warning

 Pak President vows to emancipate, empower Pakistani women

 Iran: New report finds surge in repression of dissent

 J&K Hurriyat Leader demands arrest of Praveen Togadia for anti-Islam remarks

 4th WUC General Assembly and 6th Leadership Training Seminar to be held in Tokyo

 Pakistani Taliban in talks to heal rift: Sources

 Pakistan in terrorism frontline, says Pakistan P M

 Pakistani Christian victim of Muslim-Christian leader’s conspiracy

' Curry makes our children grow up faster': Pakistan authorities

 Pakistan possesses up to 110 nuclear weapons, report says

 GCC investing in food security in Pakistan, India and others

 UK aid launches grant funds for education in Pakistan

 Syria's deputy oil minister defects from Assad regime

 Israel concerned about shift in status quo in Muslim world: Velayati

 Indonesia wants to join BRICS

 US diplomat denies threats to Pakistan over IP gas line

 In bin Laden's lair, his wives split by suspicions

 Saudi Telecom's home boom may trim foreign ambitions

 Samjhauta blast accused Chauhan’s wife stages stir

 Syed Kirmani halted from entering cricket stadium in Pakistan

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Pak Brigadier (retired) Ali Khan



 Pak Brigadier tried to Create Islamic Caliphate

Omer Farooq Khan, TNN

ISLAMABAD: Mar 8, 2012, Pakistan’s military court has temporarily stopped court martial proceedings against Brigadier (retired) Ali Khan, who plotted to create an Islamic caliphate, after his health deteriorated during the trial on Wednesday. Khan and four other officers were detained in May, 2011 for suspected links to banned group Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) and for planning to topple the government and mount attacks on the army HQ in Rawalpindi. He was working at the army general HQ at the time of his arrest. Recently military officials revealed startling information about his activities when he was in the army.

The BBC quoted a senior military official as saying that Khan had met the chief of HuT for Palestinian territory and was plotting to overthrow the government to create an Islamic caliphate. According to brigadier Amir Riaz, the head of 111 Brigade, Khan had disclosed that HuT has prepared a new constitution and a shadow government for Pakistan and that the group was ready to take over anytime.

Brig Riaz has been introduced by the prosecution as a witness against Khan. Brig Riaz said Khan believed that HuT could establish a caliphate in Pakistan only if the military handed over power to it. And this was not possible until the incumbent military brass was removed.

"Khan told me that some elements in Pakistan air force were part of the HuT conspiracy and they would mount an air raid on the general headquarters with F-16 fighter jets during a corps commanders' conference to eliminate the army brass."

Riaz claimed that Khan had asked him to take over key buildings in Islamabad following such an attack. "But I had turned down the offer," he said. According to BBC, Brig Riaz was promoted to the rank of Maj Gen following his statement.

Taliban rebel says US forced Pak to end peace talks

Arebel commander who was recently removed from the post of deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban has said that the Pakistan government suspended negotiations with local militants due to pressure from the US. Maulvi Faqir Mohammad reiterated his support for peace talks with the Pakistan government though it is believed that his backing for the nascent peace process was the reason for his removal from the top position in the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. He said there was no harm in talking to the government if it was willing to accept their demands for restoring peace in the tribal areas."Our rulers' lust for dollars never gets satiated and that's why they suspended talks," Faqir Mohammad said.


Rape Continues to be Used as Tool to Suppress Women: Asian Human Rights Commission

LAHORE: March 08, 2012, On the occasion of International Women's Day, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) expressed its deep concern over an increase in the violence against women, saying it was the strongest form of suppression of women and undermining of their self-esteem.

“Rape and especially gang rape is one of the worst forms of violence against women in Pakistani society, which claims itself to be an Islamic state and constantly repeats that it is promoting gender equality according to the teachings of Islam. In general, the state and the society are not seriously committed to getting rid of the menace of rape from Pakistani society. Instead, the government praises its policies to eradicate rape, though it has largely failed to diminish sexual violence from the society, to hold the perpetrators accountable and to alleviate the pain that a victim of rape bears for the rest of her life. The issue of rape and gang rape has not been properly addressed to identify the root causes of this evil. The government and judiciary have both failed to stop the increasing incidents of rape and gang rape because of their gender-biased approach and adherence to old traditions,” said a statement issued by the AHRC.

The AHRC statement further said, “When a country declares itself a religious homogenous society, everything is seen through the spectacle of religion, demolishing the rights of the fragile section of society. On the one hand, the state and government say they are the custodians of Islamic teachings, while on the other they always ignore the rights of women and their treatment as a sexual commodity in society. This is the basic approach which is dominating Pakistani society and that is why it is difficult to attempt to eradicate rape and diagnose the root causes.”

Criticising the role of the government and society, the statement said, “The failure to protect women from sexual violence remains a matter of serious concern. It is emblematic of how a discriminatory patriarchal mindset permeating all spheres of the society, including the justice and policing system, continues to prevent women from enjoying their fundamental rights, freedom and dignity and hampers their active participation, equality and development, to the detriment of the general welfare of the Pakistani society. Cases of rape and violence against women have increased tremendously and women have become more vulnerable on the one hand by the state repression, law enforcement agencies, biased behaviours of judiciary, and on the other hand through the Talibanisation of society. In all this, the most common thing is that the rape of women folk is not taken as a serious issue by the government, the judiciary and the law enforcement agencies.”

The statement continues, “Violence against women makes up 95 percent of the cases of violence reported in Pakistan. These statistics are even more chilling, bearing in mind that 70 percent of the cases of violence against women do not get registered. It is reported that a rape occurs in Pakistan every two hours and a gang rape every eight hours. The persistence of violence against women in Pakistan reveals the failure of the judicial system, which is affected by a strong feudal system, religious and social taboos, traditions, customs, a homogeneous religious society, a vast gender gap and a policing system and sexual discrimination in economic and social activities. Women are treated as man's property and rape has become a form of violence against women and also a method of revenge against men.”

“Lack of gender-focused education, sexual stereotypes and decadent myths impede the necessary growth of individuals and transitions in societal norms and attitudes. One of the reasons of the increasing incidents is the improper presentation of women and violence against them in the media, which never played a positive role to stop violence, but rather sensationalised cases of rape and on many occasions the media has put the burden of rape on the victims, blaming their personal characters The law enforcement authorities are one of the causes of promoting incidents of rape and strengthening the perpetrators by refusing to lodge cases of rape. A ‘false accuser’ phenomenon compels the victim not to report, which actually encourages the powerful people of the society to commit crimes with impunity and get away without much difficulty. As they are unable to find legal remedies, the families prefer to seek out of police and out of court solutions for rape,” the statement said.

“As women are still branded as carrying the "honour" of the family, rape is used as a way to seek revenge when a dispute arises between two families. The notion of "honour" being tarnished when a woman is raped only adds to the sufferings of the victims. Women have always been accused of tarnishing the honour of the family and are generally forced to marry the perpetrators, and in many cases the judicial officers compel the victim to marry the attacker. Women's rights groups in Pakistan believe that a narrow interpretation of Shariah has proved harmful to the rights of women, as it reinforces popular attitudes and perceptions around a women's body and sexuality. It also contributes to an atmosphere where discriminatory treatment of women is accepted more readily,” said the AHRC statement.

“Also in the incidents of rape, there are many cases which were reported in the media that women were paraded naked in the streets after some personal dispute or on the accusation of having an illicit relationship. The government usually announces that it will take strict action but, to date, not a single person has been convicted. Even in the cases of gang rape, the perpetrators get away with their crimes because of insufficient evidence from the prosecution and the patriarchal and biased attitude of the judiciary. The case of Mukhtaran Mai is the best example, where the matter remained pending for a very long time without any substantial progress,” the statement concluded. pr



Those who commit Human Rights abuses cannot preach to Sri Lanka

(By: Shenali Waduge)

Sri Lanka's delegation presently at the Geneva sessions of the UN Human Rights Council is facing a barrage of onslaughts on the theme of "accountability". For a country that has become the only nation to defeat terrorism and put an end to sporadic acts of terror with bombs, suicide and assassination this is an achievement no other nation is likely to achieve. Instead of bouquets Sri Lanka receives bricks - why because Sri Lanka jerked the happy existence of too many factions benefiting from the prevalence of terror.

The whole "accountability" sing song is just a gimmick and a perfect modus operandi to strike revenge. Yet, given the limitations within our scope we have done an admirable job from the time the military took up the challenge to eliminate the LTTE to the present where people do not have to fear terrorism. Sri Lanka is not going to apologize for succeeding to achieve what the majority wanted just because it leaves a minority disappointed. Our message to the world is: First hold LTTE accountable for its crimes & then move on to accusing Sri Lanka. This is the order of "accountability".

The UNHRC in 2010 issued 228 recommendations on how Washington can address violations. These are violations that the US is accused of within the US. We cannot even number the violations that the US is accused of internationally.

The US has yet to close Guantanamo Bay, US tortures kidnapped foreigners flown in private planes to Diego Garcia, there are over 2.3m in prison in the US with 3000 facing death and even children can be sentenced to life in prison. It is a country that is being run by another nation while in debt to another nation. Sri Lanka was magnanimous enough to declare that no LTTE child cadre would be sentenced for taking part in LTTE terror.

Muslims in the US are being discriminated and arrested on false terror plot accusations. These are nothing but entrapments. So what has the US done regarding these UNHRC recommendations & who is monitoring them? Did Ban-ki Moon appoint a 3 member panel to investigate this? Let alone the scores of other invasions taking place without UN mandate and simply watched by nations all over the world with only condemnation statements that hardly stops the carnage taking place.

An America that used nuclear bombs not once but twice has no moral right to be pointing any fingers. An America that invades nations simply to secure the corporate interests of a few Americans are not doing any justice to America or Americans. An America that has through over 70 covert operations killed more than 10m people can hardly comment on guestimated civilian figures in Sri Lanka. An America that has hardly settled any of the millions it has displaced has no right to be asking for statistics about Sri Lanka's resettlement. An America that allowed 3 genocides to take place has no moral right to comment & it is shameful of the other members of the UN to even sit and listen to US delegations uttering absolute lies or even nodding in approval when US is talking human rights.

A lesson we can learn from this silence is that all these nations enjoy watching US bully countries like Sri Lanka for when such countries fall into a vulnerable situation internationally & locally the other nations eagle in on countries like Sri Lanka to advance their own agendas. India is the perfect example.

This is the situation taking place globally - so can we count on nations to look at Sri Lanka's situation from a righteous point of view and come to our aid? Hardly, and the countries that do come forward to speak on behalf of Sri Lanka who say what they say because they genuinely believe that Sri Lanka has taken magnanimous steps following the LTTE defeat it is more than commendable and Sri Lanka salutes the support of these nations.

Table every allegation against US on the UN floor and ask the US to explain. On the floor of the UN, every member whether large or small has an equal voice. Let Sri Lanka be heard.

Yet, how does the US respond to these allegations - it simply dismisses these recommendations & calls them political provocations by hostile countries. Its time Sri Lanka did the same...but then what would be the consequences?

However, before anyone starts sentencing Sri Lanka we demand to know what accountability the UN, the UNHRC, the US and all the nations that have banned the LTTE have to say about LTTE atrocities over 3 decades where openly LTTE front organizations have been financing terror but the representatives of these organizations are treated like VIPs and documentaries that are funded by them are even being nominated for the Noble Peace prize, where documentaries that highlight contradictions, unverified & unconfirmed allegations suffices over real pictures of attacks by the LTTE on civilians, unarmed soldiers and enough of war crimes & crimes against humanity about the LTTE.

Where is the justice for the people the LTTE have killed over the years? Why is justice for a terrorist organization like the LTTE taking precedence? First hold LTTE accountable and then come to all other issues. This is what Sri Lanka demands.

We want to know what the world will do about the accountability of the LTTE for these crimes. The LTTE crimes cannot be allowed to get drowned or hidden by purposely attacking a Government that has every right to take the larger interest of the country into consideration to end terrorism. It is the right of any country to protect its citizens - that is what Sri Lanka did.

Human rights cannot be used as a political football against its enemies who countries term enemies simply because they want to change its government. Sri Lanka's government must remember at all times that the present international pressures surrounding Sri Lanka is primarily because they do not want a Rajapaksa Government to rule Sri Lanka.

Once international lobbies determine who they want & do not want there is little point attempting to make amends or compromises. Thus, it is in the Governments best interest to win the hearts & minds of the people of the country for their survival. Saying it simply - there is no point sucking up to these nations and their representatives - their plan is already laid out. You are either in or out. The word compromise does not exist in their vocabulary!



Hamid Karzai under fire on Afghan women's rights

08 Mar 2012

Hamid Karzai's government is under fire this International Women's Day, accused of selling out on Afghan women's rights as it tries to woo the Taliban into peace talks.

Politicians, rights organisations and analysts say that the Afghan leader, by endorsing an edict calling women second-class citizens, has endangered hard-won progress in women's rights since the Taliban fell from power in 2001.

The Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation denounced authorities for trying to strike a balance between receiving foreign aid and "keeping the conservative forces of Afghan society happy".

"In practice, the demands of extremist elements residing in the presidential palace, particularly those in the judicial bodies as well as the Afghan Ulema Council, always outweigh those of the international community," it said.

Last Friday, the Council, Afghanistan's highest Islamic authority, issued a non-binding edict saying that women were worth less than men – a statement released by Mr Karzai's office and then endorsed by the president on Tuesday.

"Men are fundamental and women are secondary," it said, adding women should avoid "mingling with strange men in various social activities such as education, in bazaars, in offices and other aspects of life".

Such advice effectively implies that women should not go to university or to work at all, no matter that in the lower house of parliament, for example, 27 per cent of seats are reserved for women.

The edict went on to say that women would wear "full Islamic hijab", should respect polygamy – Islam allows a man to take up to four wives – and comply with Sharia law on divorce, which severely restricts women's rights.

It further stated that "teasing, harassing and beating women" was prohibited "without a sharia-compliant reason" – leaving open the suggestion that in some circumstances, domestic abuse is appropriate.

Mr Karzai, who has formally outlawed violence and discrimination against women, caused consternation on Tuesday by publicly endorsing the statement, saying that it "reiterated Islamic principles and values" in supporting women.

In response, Afghanistan's first deputy speaker, Fawzia Koofi, who was this week listed as one of the world's "150 Fearless Women" by US website The Daily Beast, accused the Council of returning women to the dark days of Taliban rule.

"This move by the Ulema council drives Afghan women rights towards Talibanization," she told AFP. "Nobody has the right to interfere in women's rights, not even President Hamid Karzai."

Many women are increasingly concerned that Mr Karzai's desire to end the Taliban insurgency through peace talks means that their hard-won rights will be compromised in order to bring the hardline Islamists into mainstream politics.

"It could be a message to the Taliban that he could make compromises amending the constitution," Afghan political analyst Haroun Mir told AFP.

In Kabul and major cities in Afghanistan, enormous progress has been made in women's rights since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban regime, which banned girls from going to school and women from working.

Women were whipped in the street by the religious police if they wore anything other than the all-enveloping blue or white burka, and those accused of adultery were executed at a sports stadium after Friday prayers.

(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Since the Taliban fell, however, the number of girls in education has soared from 5,000 to 2.5 million, according to the government and aid groups.

But in remote areas where the traditional patriarchal system is very much the norm, life for most women has barely improved at all.

The case of a woman named Gulnaz, who does not know her real age but says she is 20 or 21, attracted worldwide attention when she was jailed for adultery after being raped by her cousin's husband.

Mr Karzai pardoned her, and she was released in December after spending two years behind bars, but faces great social pressure to marry the man who attacked her, to provide security for her baby and restore her family's honour.

In January, the president described violence against women as "cowardly" and pledged to take action against the perpetrators in the wake of a horrific case of the torture of a child bride, locked in a lavatory for six months.

Heather Barr, researcher in Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, said at best Karzai was giving out mixed messages on women's rights.

"This thing from the Ulema council is really, really frightening ... because it is about all women, rather than individual cases," Barr told AFP.

Despite Mr Karzai signing legislation to eliminate violence and discrimination against women, implementation is poor to non-existent.

According to aid group Oxfam, 87 per cent of Afghan women say they have suffered from physical, sexual or psychological abuse or been forced into an arranged marriage.

Source: AFP



British terrorist with links to 7/7 'White Widow' was 'captured on bus while disguised as woman'


7th March 2012

A British terror suspect linked to 7/7 bombs widow Samantha Lewthwaite was arrested in Kenya while dressed as a woman, a court heard.

Jermaine Grant, 29, from London, had allegedly disguised himself by wearing a Muslim burqa when he was held in 2008 as he travelled on a bus in northern Kenya.

A court in Nairobi heard the suspected bomb plotter was accused of being part of a gang which attacked a police station on May 31 2008 in the town of Wajir.

Today police sergeant Kulmia Hamud told how he arrested Grant after fellow bus passengers informed officers there was a man on board dressed as a woman.

He said: 'I closely looked at his head and realized he was a man and not a woman.

'I asked him to identify himself by showing his identity card but he could not respond since he didn't speak or understand Swahili.'

The court heard Grant was unarmed when he was arrested on the bus just hours after the remote police camp was attacked in the northern town.

The British Muslim convert, who has been linked by police to a terror plot involving 'White Widow' Lewthwaite, was held alongside two other suspects.

The trio were suspected of violently attacking the police base to steal firearms and a vehicle.

The court heard Grant was held in custody following his arrest at the Dadajabula police camp in Wajir but escaped just hours later after suspected al-Shabaab militants attacked the building.

The London-born suspect disappeared and was not seen again by police until December 20 last year, when he was arrested as part of a separate probe in the port city of Mombasa.

The court heard this morning that he had been charged with violent robbery and escaping justice over the 2008 incident.

Grant, who has already been sentenced to a year in prison for entering Kenya illegally, was led into the Nairobi courtroom in handcuffs.

He then appeared relaxed as he stood in the dock, wearing a red and blue striped T-shirt.

Speaking afterwards his lawyer Mbugua Mureithi said he denied the charges against him.

He said: 'It is alleged that my client was involved in the raid on the police station in Wajir and that he somehow disguised himself as a woman under a burqa and head scarf.

'The prosecution claim he then escaped from custody after the police base was attacked.

'However my client denies all the charges against him in this case.

'He had nothing on him at the time of his arrest.

'He was not carrying any weapons, had no money and not even a mobile phone - yet the prosecution claim he had somehow been involved in this incident earlier that day.

'My client denies any involvement and we will continue to fight the case.'

Grant was returned to custody following this morning's hearing after Nairobi Chief Magistrate Esther Maina adjourned the trial until April 10 and 11.

The proceedings in Kenya's capital are running alongside a separate case being heard against Grant in Mombasa.

The Briton was held on December 20 during a police raid at a property in the Indian Ocean city.

Detectives have said Grant was found in possession of bomb-making materials at the time of his arrest.

He has been charged with possessing explosives and plotting to launch an attack alongside three Kenyan fellow suspects, including a woman believed to be his wife.

That matter was adjourned in February until May when the trial is expected to be heard in Mombasa.

Kenyan detectives have said Grant's arrest followed a major anti-terror operation focused on a group of suspected plotters allegedly linked to the militant Somali group al Shabaab.

Last week it emerged officers had launched a major hunt for fellow Briton Lewthwaite, the widow of 7/7 London bomber Jermaine Lindsay.

Lewthwaite, a mother of three, was pictured entering Kenya last year and is wanted for allegedly funding terror networks.

She escaped capture following a raid on a Mombasa property in December and is believed to be on the run.

Police this week said they feared it was possible the Muslim convert could have fled with her children into neighbouring Somalia.

Metropolitan Police anti terror officers have flown to Kenya to aid the operation and forensic experts in Britain are examining evidence linked to both Grant and Lewthwaite.

Today Grant's lawyer, one of three representing the Briton in his two cases, said he had not questioned his client about his alleged links to Lewthwaite.

Mr Mureithi, a respected human rights advocate, said: 'I have not been instructed to deal with that matter and have had no reason to speak to him about the other British suspect.'



Indian journalist arrested over Israel embassy attack


By Reuters

NEW DELHI – 03/08/12, Delhi Police arrested an Indian journalist, Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, a Shi’ite with longstanding Iranian connections, on Tuesday for his alleged role in facilitating the February 13 bombing of an Israeli Embassy car.

The explosion – in which Tal Yehoshua Koren, wife of the Israeli defense attache, was injured – was caused by a “sticky bomb,” which a motorcyclist attached to the car when it slowed down at a traffic intersection, a short distance from the Indian prime minister’s residence.

Kazmi, 50, according to Delhi Police, is a “freelance journalist.”

He runs Media Star News and Features, an Urdu-language news agency, and is said to be a part-time employee with an Iranian broadcaster.

According to his family, he wrote columns for Iranian newspapers and filed reports for the official Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency.

Senior officials involved with the investigation said Kazmi was an Urdu news reader with India’s public broadcaster, Doordarshan. They also disclosed that Kazmi is likely to have visited the Israeli Embassy. He reported on the Iraq war for a production house.

“He was a frequent visitor to Iran since 1983 and has visited several countries in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria,” an official close to the investigation said.

Kazmi is reported to have been picked up by the police on Tuesday night from the sprawling India Islamic Cultural Center on Lodhi Road, a high profile locality in the heart of New Delhi and close to the UN’s offices. The police have searched his house and visited Meerut, a town near Delhi, from where he hails.

He appeared in court on Wednesday and formally charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a tough anti-terrorism law, for helping the terrorist who planted the bomb on the car.

Police were granted custody of Kazmi for 20 days for “custodial interrogation.”

Had the attacks succeeded on a greater scale, they could have provoked a strong Israeli response, a senior Israeli security expert said Wednesday.

“What amazes me about all of these attempts is the fact that one successful attack, one Israeli embassy blown up, is a casus belli [a incident that justifies war] for a very strong Israeli response,” Ely Karmon, of the Interdisciplinary Center’s Institute for Counter-Terrorism, told The Jerusalem Post.

He noted that the Iranian terror plot centering on Israel’s embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, would have also harmed the Japanese embassy in the city, which shares its building.

Karmon added that the arrest of Kazmi fits in with an established Iranian pattern of using locals while setting up attacks abroad.

“In terms of characteristics, they set up a local infrastructure using Sunnis or Shi’ites.

They [the Iranians] don’t care, as long as the job gets done,” he said.

Often, “the serious operational people” are Iranians or Hezbollah operatives, and arrive briefly in the designated country to create the explosives before leaving, Karmon said.

Past terror plots organized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have followed similar patterns in South America, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, he added.

Karmon pointed to a 2008 plot to blow up the Israeli embassy in Baku, in which two Lebanese suspects and four Azerbaijani nationals were arrested. The Lebanese men have since been sentenced to 15 years behind bars each. Several Iranian, Lebanese and Azerbaijani members of the terror ring escaped to Iran, he added.

Similarly, in 1999, an Indonesia terror suspect was arrested in the Philippines, and told authorities he had been recruited by Hezbollah, together with other Indonesians and Malaysians. The suspects trained in Lebanon before being dispatched to attack targets in Australia and Israel.

“This has been happening again and again since 1983,” Karmon said. In many cases, Lebanese Shi’ite expatriates are approached for recruitment.

The cases often involve the IRGC’s elite unit for terror attacks abroad, the Quds Force, Karmon said.

Karmon said the latest wave of attacks was an effort to create simultaneous strikes against Israelis, but was marked by poor operational capabilities, so much so that Hezbollah distanced itself from them.

The police said their investigations have led them to believe that the conspiracy to bomb the Israeli Embassy car was “hatched outside India” and the “possibility of a foreign hand cannot be ruled out.”

In view of Kazmi’s known connections, the police are clearly implicating Iran although no formal statement to that effect has yet been made.

Describing the bombing as a case of “international terrorism,” the police said Kazmi helped the bomber conduct a reconnaissance of the area around the Israeli Embassy, which is located on Aurangzeb Road, off Delhi’s main landmark, India Gate.

“He provided the bomber with insider information,” a source said, in addition to possibly sheltering him at his home.

Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta told journalists that a mobile phone and laptop have been seized from Kazmi. He refrained from providing details of what else the police have found while searching Kazmi’s house.

Asked if more arrests were likely, Gupta said: “We have to nab two to three more people.”

Sources said the black motorcycle used by the bomber, which is believed to have been procured with Kazmi’s help, has been traced. The police have also found a scooter at his residence which is said to have been used for the reconnaissance that he conducted of the area around the Israeli Embassy. It is possible security camera footage holds evidence of the scooter being used.

After Kazmi appeared in court, the public prosecutor told the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate: “He is one of the conspirators of this wider conspiracy.

This is a case of international terrorism. It is not necessarily that only Indians are involved in this case and there is a possibility that some foreign nationals might be involved.”

According to the public prosecutor, “the conspiracy was hatched outside India.” But he refused to elaborate, saying: “We have already recorded the statement of the eyewitnesses to the incident. The conspiracy was hatched outside India. We do not want to disclose all the information in the open court as the main accused, who is yet to be arrested, could go out of the reach of the investigating agency.”

“An IED [improvised explosive device] was planted for the explosion and this was not an accidental act. Everything was carried out in a well-planned way. We need 20 days [of] police custody of the accused to unearth the entire conspiracy.

The investigation is going on and some more accused are yet to be arrested,” the public prosecutor said.

Kazmi’s counsel denied the charges, accused the investigators of “falsely implicating” him and opposed the custody sought by Delhi Police. His objections were overruled.

The formal arrest of Kazmi came a day after elections in five Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, which is home to a huge Muslim population.

The police are likely to have kept him under surveillance for many days and monitored his movements to ensure he did not slip away.

The Indian government has been hesitant to openly name Iran as a collaborator in the attack because of crucial oil imports. Tuesday’s arrest comes three days before an Indian trade delegation leaves for Iran to negotiate methods of circumventing sanctions.

Meanwhile, police in Thailand suspect that Thai nationals could also be involved in the plot to murder Israeli diplomats in the southeast Asian country.

According to a report from India’s Zeenews website, Bangkok Deputy Police Chief Pansiri Prapawat confirmed that police are investigating the possible involvement of local Thais in the triple bombing plot. Prapawat did not provide further details due to the fact that investigation is ongoing, the report said.

Two Iranian suspects remain at large and arrest warrants have been issued for them, Thai authorities said. Three others, including terror suspect Saeid Moradi, who blew off both of his legs with his own grenade while trying to flee police, are in Thai custody.



SIMI men now in social activists’ garb

Srinath Vudali, TNN

HYDERABAD: Mar 8, 2012, State intelligence officials are claiming that several members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India ( Simi) have joined the Popular Front of India (PFI) and that it was this controversial organization that was behind some recent communal disturbances in the state including last year's Adoni riots.

The PFI, which shot into national prominence when two of its members chopped the hand of a Kerala Christian professor in June 2010 on the charge of blasphemy, claims to be a neo social movement for a new India for equal rights to all Indians, and is a confederation of Muslim organizations in India, as stated on its website, and is active in south India. Formed in November 2006, the PFI includes the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), the National Development Front (NDF), and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP), which are active in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, respectively.,

Although PFI claims to be an organization working for only the socio-economic, cultural and political empowerment of the deprived and the downtrodden, state intelligence sources say it is under their scanner for possible militant activities including terrorism.

Sources in the police department said PFI is making every effort to win over the Muslim community in Andhra Pradesh by taking up issues which are emotive and sensitive to their feelings. Specifically, it is concentrating on rural areas where the Muslim population is dominant, they said.

"The activities of PFI are widespread in Rayalaseema, especially in Kurnool district, where it is incidentally headquartered. Though its presence in Hyderabad is presently restricted to some pockets like Chandrayangutta and Shivarampalli, its activities are slowly spreading. However, the backward villages of the state where Muslim population is dominant is their focus area of operation where they take up programmes like 'Sarva Siksha Grams' or 'School Chalo'. But the sole purpose of these activities is to lure Muslim youth towards PFI," the sources said.

After the alleged role of right-wing Hindu activists surfaced in the Mecca Masjid blast, members of PFI have been suspected of having pasted anonymous posters under the caption 'Save India Day' in Old City, Kurnool, Nellore and Kadapa districts saying that innocent Muslims were harassed and arrested while the real culprits were ignored.



NYPD: Relations with Muslims in region are strong

NEWARK, N.J. March 8, 12— A New York Police Department spokesman says police ties with the Muslim community remain strong, in response to a New Jersey FBI official's criticism that police monitoring of Muslims has damaged the public trust.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says that ongoing relationships with Muslims in the region have led to the arrest of several suspected terrorists in New Jersey and elsewhere. He says Ward recently praised two NYPD officers for their help in a New Jersey terror case.

 Michael Ward, agent in charge of the FBI's Newark division, says Muslims have become less cooperative and distrusting since learning that police monitored Muslims at businesses and their mosques. The surveillance was detailed in a series of stories by The Associated Press.



Muslim and African nations walk out of UN panel on gay rights


Geneva, 7 March 2012

Muslim and African countries have walked out of a Human Rights Council panel set up to tackle the issue of murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the world.

Speaking before the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation exited the chamber on Wednesday, Pakistan described homosexuality as "licentious behaviour" while African group leader Senegal said it was not covered by global human rights accords.

Nigeria – where gay rights groups say there have been many attacks on male and female homosexuals – claimed none of its citizens were at risk of violence because of sexual orientation or gender identity, before it too left the chamber.

Mauritania, for the Arab group, all of whose members are also in the OIC, said attempts to impose "the controversial topic of sexual orientation" would undermine discussion in the council of other human rights problems.

The walkout, which diplomats said not all countries in the Islamic and African groups joined, was the first by three major blocs in the 47-member council, which has been dominated until recently by a caucus of developing countries and their allies.

It came after the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and the human rights high commissioner, Navi Pillay, told the session that gay people should be protected by all governments.

"We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender," Ban said in a video message to the panel, chaired by African group dissenter South Africa.

"This is a monumental tragedy for those affected – and a stain on our collective conscience. It is also a violation of international law. You, as members of the Human Rights Council, must respond," the UN chief declared.

Islamic nations and most African countries have long kept discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity out of the council, but a strong drive by the United States and South Africa brought it onto the agenda last June.

Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay joined in to push through a narrow vote to mandate Wednesday's panel and the high commissioner's report.

Pillay, once a South African high court judge, told the session her life under apartheid had taught her that "ignorance and bigotry" could only be overcome by education and frank discussion among people with different views.

In her report she detailed how homophobia led to abuse, often fatal, around the globe, ranging from mob killing for males, multiple rape of lesbians "to cure them" and torture in public and private jails.

The report said 76 countries among the UN's 192 members had laws criminalising homosexual behaviour. At least five – in particular Iran – implement the death penalty, while efforts are under way in Uganda to introduce the same punishment.

"I know some will resist what we are saying," said Pillay, who earlier this week was accused by Egypt of promoting homosexuality by pressing on with the report despite the objections of Islamic countries.

In a clear reference to Islamic and African countries, she said some states would argue that homosexuality or bisexuality "conflict with local cultural or traditional values, or with religious teachings, or run counter to public opinion".

She said that they were free to hold their opinions, but: "That is as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture, on the one hand, and universal human rights on the other, must be struck in favour of rights."



Iran's supreme leader says Obama  comments are 'window of opportunity'

Reuters,,  8 March 2012

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has described comments by the US president, Barack Obama, about the need to dampen the drumbeat of war as a diplomatic "window of opportunity", the Iranian state news agency IRNA has reported.

"We heard two days ago that the US president said that [they] are not thinking about war with Iran. These words are good words and an exit from delusion," Khamenei was quoted as saying.

However, the supreme leader said Obama had also spoken about "bringing the Iranian people to their knees through sanctions", adding: "This part of his comments shows that the illusion continues."

The US and its European allies have expanded economic sanctions against Iran in an attempt to get it to rein in its disputed nuclear programme.



Former US soldier accused of trying to join Somali terror group, al-Shabaab

Associated Press, The Guardian,  8 March 2012

Craig Benedict Baxam indicted on charges of attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab

A former US soldier has been indicted on charges that he tried to join a terrorist organisation in Somalia.

A federal grand jury indicted Craig Benedict Baxam on Wednesday on charges of attempting to provide material support to the al-Shabaab group, which is affiliated with al-Qaida. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years if convicted.

The 24-year-old served in the army from 2007 to 2011. He was arrested on a criminal complaint in January upon returning to the US from Africa.

Prosecutors say Baxam cashed out his retirement savings and bought a plane ticket to Kenya with plans of travelling to Somalia and joining al-Shabaab. He was arrested in Kenya before reaching Somalia.

Baxam's public defender has said Baxam was naive, impulsive and simply exploring his religion.



Nigeria: Radical Islamist sect sets another school ablaze amid international watchdog warning

By Associated Press,

GOMBE, Nigeria — March 7, 12, A radical Islamist sect blamed for more than 300 killings this year alone in Nigeria has found a new target for its anti-government rage: schools.

The sect known as Boko Haram has set ablaze more than a dozen schools since the beginning of the year, saying it will continue to target them as it says the government attacks Islamic schools.

Human Rights Watch warns the Boko Haram attacks have left thousands of students unable to attend classes in northeast Nigeria.

“Boko Haram’s attacks on schools represent a new and reprehensible development since the group began its campaign of violence in 2009,” Zama Coursen-Neff, the group’s deputy children’s rights director, said in a statement issued late Tuesday. “Children and educational institutions should be left alone.”

Another school in Gombe state, near the sect’s spiritual home in Maiduguri, was set ablaze overnight. Residents said the school burned in a town near the border with Yobe state. It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured in the attack and authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.

Boko Haram’s name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language. In its early days, then-leader Mohammed Yusuf railed against the corruption brought by Western ideals into Nigeria, including sciences.

The sect, thought to be destroyed after a 2009 riot and security crackdown killed 700 in Maiduguri, has grown more violent, but many in the region still call it Boko Haram as Yusuf continually said the phrase while preaching.

Boko Haram has put up an increasingly bloody sectarian fight against weak Nigeria’s central government over unavenged Muslim killings in the country, the desire to see Islamic law enacted and to free its detained members.

The sect is blamed for killing more than 300 people this year alone. In January, it launched a coordinated attack on the northern city of Kano that killed at least 185 people. It also claimed responsibility for the August suicide car bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria’s capital that killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 100 others.

Attacks blamed on the sect continued across the north Tuesday and Wednesday. In Yobe state, police commissioner Tanko Lawan said a village chief and a civilian were killed in one attack in Bilala. In Konduga in Borno state, police said the sect destroyed a police station and a church, as well as local government offices. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties in the Konduga attack.

A military spokesman said more soldiers would be deployed to Konduga, but some living there had already begun to flee.

“We could not sleep in our houses yesterday night after the gunmen came attacking,” resident Mallam Yahaya said. “My house is near the police station and we saw many policemen injured. ... One of my cousins was shot by (a) stray bullet. We are in real dilemma here.”



Pak President vows to emancipate, empower Pakistani women

ISLAMABAD, March 08, 2012: President Asif Ali Zardari while, highlighting the struggle of thePakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the promotion of women’s rights, has reiterated the government's commitment to emancipate and empower the country's women.

President Zardari in his message on International Women’s Day being observed today (Thursday) said, "The promotion of women's rights is part of the history of the struggle of Pakistan People’s Party. As the first woman ever elected to head an Islamic nation, our leader Benazir Bhutto felt a special responsibility to address issues relating to women."

He said, "On International Day for Women today I wish to compliment the women in general and the women of Pakistan in particular for their struggle for their rights on the one hand and reiterate the commitment of the government of Pakistan to emancipate and empower women of the country."

The president said, "In the West, the women's liberation movement began in the 20th century. In the Islamic world, the women's rights movement is as old as Islam itself although, unfortunately, one would not know this when looking at our society."

"The task before us all, especially the PPP, is to restore them in our society and end discrimination and violence against women once and for all," he added.

The president said it was this vision of the PPP leaders that the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appointed women for the first time in the subordinate judiciary and the police force.

"The subsequent PPP governments appointed women to the high courts and created special family courts headed by women judges and special women's police force to investigate crimes against women. We did not want women facing shame in having to relate to men the violence they may have been subjected to," he added.

Zadari said, "For the first time in our history we have, under the present government, a woman speaker, a woman as foreign minister and a woman as our Ambassador to the United States. We have a separate ombudsperson for women."

He said a number of far-reaching legislative measures had been adopted during the last four years to address issues relating to women and to empower them.

"The measures include protecting women from harassment at workplace, preventing acid attacks, discouraging anti-women practices, creation of a fund for women in distress and detention and legislation to punish several offenses against women, including depriving them from inheritance and forced marriage," he added.

President Zardari said, "Most recently the National Commission on Status of Women was enacted into an empowered, independent and autonomous body to protect the social, economic, political and legal rights of women," adding, the job quota for women in government services had been increased to 10 percent.

He said, "We live in an age of terrorism where human life seems to have lost value. But we do not accept such a world where humans are disposable statistics. For us each human life is precious."

"The PPP believes that one of the best methods to confront terrorism is to raise the status of women. When opportunities for women flourish, extremism withers," he added.

The president further said, "On the eve of International Women’s Day, therefore, I once again compliment the women and assure them of the fullest support in their just struggle for rights."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also expressed the resolve of the federal government to extend its support to provinces in their endeavours to protect and promote women's rights in all walks of life.

In a message on International Women's Day, the prime minister said the democratic government was committed to implementing Benazir Bhutto's vision for empowerment of women in its true spirit.

PM Gilani said Benazir Bhutto is a powerful symbol of women’s empowerment. The cause of women’s empowerment was close to her heart and she spent her entire life working for attainment of their rights. app



Iran: New report finds surge in repression of dissent

28 February 2012                                       

Iran’s crackdown on freedom of expression has dramatically escalated in the run up to this week’s parliamentary elections, Amnesty International said today.

The 71-page “We are ordered to crush you”: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran details how, in the wake of protests called by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in February 2011, the Iranian authorities have steadily cranked up repression of dissent in law and practice, launching a wave of arrests in recent months.

Amnesty International said the continuing crackdown laid bare the hollowness of Iran’s claims to support protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

“In Iran today you put yourself at risk if you do anything that might fall outside the increasingly narrow confines of what the authorities deem socially or politically acceptable,” said Ann Harrison, Interim Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Anything from setting up a social group on the internet, forming or joining an NGO, or expressing your opposition to the status quo can land you in prison.”

“This dreadful record really highlights the hypocrisy of the Iranian government's attempts to show solidarity with protesters in Egypt, Bahrain and other countries in the region.”

The report finds that in recent months a wave of arrests has targeted a range of groups, including lawyers, students, journalists, political activists and their relatives, religious and ethnic minorities, filmmakers, and people with international connections, particularly to media.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi – defeated presidential candidates in the 2009 election – have been under de facto house arrest since February 2011. While Mehdi Karroubi’s wife was released in July 2011, Zahra Rahnavard, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s wife, remains under house arrest with her husband.

In the run-up to parliamentary elections on 2 March, the situation has worsened.

The clampdown has targeted electronic media, seen by the authorities as a major threat. In January a senior police officer said Google was an “espionage tool”, not a search engine. The same month, the recently established Cyber Police required owners of internet cafés to install CCTV and to register the identity of users before allowing them to use computers.

Blogger Mehdi Khazali was this month sentenced to four and a half years in prison, followed by 10 years in “internal exile”, and a fine on charges believed to include “spreading propaganda against the system” “gathering and colluding against national security,” and “insulting officials.” It is not clear whether his “internal exile” will in fact be served in prison.

Having been originally charged in 2011 and released on bail, he was arrested again in January. He is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where he has been on hunger strike for more than 40 days in protest at his detention, raising fears for his health.

Harassment, arrest and imprisonment of human rights defenders, including women’s rights groups, has also intensified and several NGOs have been shut down.

Abdolfattah Soltani, a founder member of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, was arrested in September and is held in Evin Prison awaiting the outcome of his trial on charges which include his acceptance of an international human rights prize. He has been threatened with a 20-year sentence.

The pressure on independent voices has extended to those outside Iran.

Earlier this month, the BBC said family members of its Persian language service had been subjected to harassment, including one who was arrested in January and held in solitary confinement and others whose passports were confiscated.

Amnesty International said the attacks on dissenting views come against a backdrop of a worsening overall human rights situation in Iran.

There were around four times as many public executions in 2011 as in 2010, a practice that Amnesty International said was used by the authorities to strike fear into society.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been sentenced to death in the past year, mainly for alleged drugs offences. Iran continues to execute juvenile offenders – a practice strictly prohibited under international law.

Amnesty International called on the international community not to allow tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme or events in the wider region to distract it from pressing Iran to live up to its human rights obligations.

The organization specifically urged the UN Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran in March.

"For Iranians facing this level of repression, it can be dispiriting that discussions about their country in diplomatic circles can seem to focus mainly on the nuclear programme at the expense of human rights," said Ann Harrison.

"Countries dealing with the Iranian government cannot neglect their responsibilities to Iran's brave rights defenders, trade unionists, minorities and journalists."



J&K Hurriyat Leader demands arrest of Praveen Togadia for anti-Islam remarks


SRINAGAR: Mar 8, 2012, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani demanded arrested of VHP leader Praveen Togadia for his alleged anti-Islam remarks during his visit to Rajouri area of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Geelani has condemned the anti-Islam utterances of Togadia and demanded his immediate arrest," a spokesman of the amalgam said in a statement.

Geelani also called for raising "voice in protest" against the remarks of Togadia during Friday prayers in mosques at Doda, Rajouri, Poonch and Kishtwar.



4th WUC General Assembly and 6th Leadership Training Seminar to be held in Tokyo

Press Release

8 March 2012

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is pleased to announce that in May 2012, WUC´s 4th General Assembly (14 – 17 May), as well as the 6th Leadership training Seminar (18 – 20 May) will be held in Tokyo, Japan. The WUC expects around 100 Uyghur delegates from around the world to attend both events. Leaders of different Japanese political parties, Members of Parliament, and government officials as well as the representatives of international human rights organizations will be invited to the Opening Ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony will take place on 14 May at the Japanese Parliament and is open to the public.

During the 4th WUC General Assembly, the new WUC leadership will be elected by the delegates and the WUC activity and financial reports will be discussed. Delegates will further develop the working strategy to raise the Uyghur legitimate cause for freedom and democracy in the international fora.

The two and a half days Leadership Training Seminar, tailored to the members of the Uyghur diaspora, will be jointly organised by the WUC and the Japanese Uyghur Association (JUA), with the kind support by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The training seminar will reinforce and build on past training workshops, and provide the Uyghur community with the knowledge and capacity necessary to raise awareness of the Uyghur issue outside of China. This year´s seminar will also focus on training participants on how to use new media to build social networks and to improve Internet security. Experienced activists, both from the Uyghur community and other invited guests from the wider NGO community, will lead the workshop sessions. The WUC will invite journalists, bloggers, and website managers to discuss the issues of new media and Internet security.

Since 2007, the World Uyghur Congress has annually organized one Leadership Training Seminar with the sponsorship of NED and in collaboration with UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, the US, and Australia.



Pakistani Taliban in talks to heal rift: Sources


Peshawar, March 8, 2012, Pakistani Taliban commanders are locked in talks, trying to heal a damaging rift that has inflamed tensions over whether to pursue peace efforts with the government, insiders say.

After months of relative calm, bomb and suicide attacks are again hitting Pakistan's northwest, raising fears that militants are again on the offensive despite reports late last year that commanders were exploring peace contacts.

"The one-point agenda is how to adopt a uniform policy," a Taliban commander told media from an undisclosed location on condition of anonymity.

The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a loose confederation of rival commanders. Divisions first came to the fore after founder Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in August 2009.

The young and radical Hakimullah Mehsud – a clan relation to Baitullah – ultimately won a leadership battle, pushing the TTP closer to Al-Qaeda and overseeing some of Pakistan's bloodiest gun and suicide attacks yet.

Mullah Omar, the Afghan Taliban supreme leader, reportedly asked TTP commanders to stop attacks as his movement explores confidence-building talks with the Americans at the start of a nascent peace process in Afghanistan.

The only TTP commander who refused to comply was Hakimullah Mehsud, putting him at odds with his arch-rival, the older and more measured Wali-ur Rehman, sources say.

Differences appeared to bubble over Sunday with the sacking of Mehsud's deputy, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, who is considered close to Rehman, at a TTP meeting.

"Dialogue with Pakistan is a secondary issue. First, we're trying to end our disputes and after that we will decide on holding talks with Pakistan," the Taliban commander said.

"There are serious differences between Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur Rehman which everybody wants to end," he added.

The TTP leadership has held several meetings with representatives from the Afghan Taliban and Afghanistan's militant Haqqani network to try to unite, but commanders are constantly on the move, worried about US drone missiles.

"Several rounds of talks have taken place but commanders can't sit together in one place for long as they fear drone strikes," another source said.

Experts are divided over the significance of Mohammad's sacking with the government and former officials convinced that the TTP is now weaker than ever, hit hard by the US drone strikes and by Pakistani military offensives.

"Hakimullah Mehsud has his group with its own weight but TTP commanders are scattered. Some are in Afghanistan, some in the tribal areas. There is a lack of communication," said Mehmud Shah, a former tribal belt security chief.

"There are commanders who aren't listening to Mehsud... The shura (meeting) of some of its leaders is just to show their importance. The TTP structure is broken and they are making efforts to rebuild it and remove difference," he added.

Mohammad has insisted that he initiated peace contacts in Bajaur, his home district and one of seven in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt, with the full knowledge of Mehsud's TTP leadership as a ‘test case’.

"They told me that first the peace process should take place in Bajaur and then be expanded," he told the media by telephone.

Malik Sultan Zeb, an elder in the Mamund tribe in Bajaur, said tribesmen were keen to cut a deal with the TTP provided that the militants were willing to stop attacks.

"America is holding peace talks with (Afghanistan's) Taliban and we also want to have peace talks with the militants," he said.

A Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity and saying his information was based on informants, said the message to unite came from Mullah Omar in December.

"He sent a message saying, peace in Pakistan is imperative for us," the official said.

"Hakimullah Mehsud is still reluctant about various issues, but intermediaries from Afghanistan are trying to solve the rifts," he said.



Pakistan in terrorism frontline, says Pakistan P M

Thu, 8 Mar 201

Despite a hostile judiciary, a fractious military and long-running tensions with neighbouring India, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani believes the biggest threat facing his country stems from extremism and terrorism.

Strategically, Pakistan - which borders Afghanistan - is "a frontline state fighting war on extremism and terrorism", the Prime Minister told Australia Network's Newsline. "Because of the geographical situation the biggest challenge is extremism and terrorism."

While Pakistan was engaged in this fight, the Prime Minister told Jim Middleton in a wide-ranging interview, he criticised the increasing use of drone strikes by the United States to combat militants in the country.

He said the strikes show no respect for the people of Pakistan and are a violation of the country's sovereignty


It should be up to Pakistan to take action inside its borders.

"Whether they are successful or not successful is beside the point. The matter is of the sovereignty of the country."

The Prime Minister also said: "There should be more credible and actionable information passed on to Pakistan. We can act (for) our own selves."

As for Pakistan's nuclear program, he said it was "in safe hands" and had a "very good command and control system".

Mr Gilani noted that India has won access to Australian uranium sales, and said that was a matter for the two countries involved.

However, he said he had raised in international forums the need to ensure a balance in the region shared by India and Pakistan.



Pakistani Christian victim of Muslim-Christian leader’s conspiracey

London: March 7, 2012. (PCP) “Pakistani Christian are disappointed on speech of Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani on 1st anniversary of slain Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti at Islamabad Convention Center organized by All Pakistan Minorities alliance because he failed to announce any action to arrest killers of a Christian minister in his cabinet” said Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC and Editor of Pakistan Christian Post PCP in a London based television channel “Glory TV” in its popular program “Awam Show with Taskeen Khan” on March 6, 2012.

In response to a question by anchor Taskeen Khan about All Pakistan Minorities Alliance APMA, PCC Chief Nazir Bhatti said “Paul Bhatti, Advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Harmony Ministry is not a political worker and new in political arena, so, he will not like to comment on his role as a leader of APMA and as a Christian leader because he replaced his slain brother in cabinet on our demands to comfort the grieved family after assassination but he have proved to be not capable leader on refraining from demands to ensure justice for his brothers murder”

Commenting on one seat of Christians in recent elections of Senate of Pakistan, Nazir Bhatti clarified that representation of minorities in Senate of Pakistan was an outstanding demand of Christians not only demand of Shahbaz Bhatti but it was legislated by PPP government when Shahbaz Bhatti was federal minority minister in this government. It was responsibility of Shahbaz Bhatti to press upon government to distribute allocated 4 seats among religious communities proportional to population which he ignored and as a result the number one minority of Christians has one seat in Senate while they deserved three seats.

In Awam show with Taskeen Khan, Mr. Parvez Rafiq member Punjab Assembly and founder member of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance APMA surprised viewers when he revealed that Punjab police attempted to stop him to participate in memorial service of Shahbaz Bhatti in his native village Khushpur on March 4, 2012. He said that DPO Faisalabad threatened him of arrest but when anchor Taskeen Khan questioned that Punjab Law Minister Sanaa Ullaha has said that Paul Bhatti, brother of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti asked Faisalabad police to stop you from attending memorial service, Mr. Rafiq said that he have filed a motion in Punjab Assembly in this regard.

Nazir Bhatti said that if Pakistan people Party leader President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari had sympathy with Christians he might have selected any Christian Senator from KPK or Balochistan but PPP not gave due consideration to biggest Christian minority of Pakistan.

In Awam Show of Glory TV, Nazir Bhatti said that at present there is no Christian member from PPP neither in National Assembly of Pakistan nor in Senate of Pakistan.



'Curry makes our children grow up faster': Pakistan authorities


7th March 2012

A change in law that would allow the criminal age of responsibility in Pakistan to be raised from seven to 12 has been hindered by authorities who claim it is unnecessary... because of curry.

Raising the age to 12 would adhere with United Nations guidelines - and the move has frustrated politicians keen to see a bill passed to that effect.

The Minister of the Interior said that the nation's children grow up more quickly than in other countries due to the hot climate and spicy food

The bill - which was drafted three years ago - would also make child pornography, child trafficking and sexual abuse illegal for the first time.

But a string of objections has meant it has not yet had official approval.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, head of the Ministry of Human Rights, said Pakistan could be subjected to international sanctions if it failed to raise the minimum age for prosecutions.

'Not only are we trying to raise the age of criminal liability, but we are also trying to introduce legislation to outlaw child pornography, trafficking and abuse which doesn't exist in Pakistan at the moment.'

He added that the legislation was being obstructed due to 'an unscientific theory that children here mature faster'.

The Ministry of Law and Justice said that sharia law views children as adults when they reach puberty.

And since this onset varied depending on various factors, it would prove impossible to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

In a written submission, the ministry stated: 'It can be well understood that attainment of maturity of understanding depends on social, economic, climatic, dietary and environmental factors.

'That's why a child in our subcontinent starts understanding nature and consequences of his/her conduct much earlier than a child in the west specially because of general poverty, hot climate, exotic and spicy food which contribute towards speedy physical and mental growth of the child.'

The ministry also claimed that raising the age would enable young, would-be suicide bombers to avoid punishment.

Mr Khokhar has urged Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, to reconsider the proposals.

He said: 'These very young children are victims and should not be treated as criminals. We have rehabilitation centres for them.'

No one from the Interior Ministry was available for comment.

JJSO - a step in the right direction

Despite the struggle for better rights for children, there have been some advances in juvenile justice in recent years.

One such step is the 2000 Juvenile Justice System Ordinance.

Among other provisions, the JJSO prohibits for the first time labour during imprisonment, corporal punishment in police custody, arrest under preventive laws, the use of fetters and handcuffs, and the death penalty for children.

Other positive developments resulting from the JJSO include: many jails have designated separate cells for children so as to avoid detention with adults; some child-specific juvenile justice institutions have been created; national NGOs have expanded legal assistance schemes to children; and the government is giving greater consideration to ways to improve the problem of high numbers of children detained while under trial.



Pakistan possesses up to 110 nuclear weapons, report says


ISLAMABAD: Mar 7, 2012, Pakistan possessed up to 110 nuclear weapons and spent a whopping $2.2 billion on its atomic arsenal last year, claims a report by an international NGO, prompting Islamabad to call it "highly exaggerated".

In the report titled "Don't bank on the bomb", the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said that Pakistan had between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons. "Its arsenal has grown substantially in recent years, from 60 to 80 nuclear weapons in 2008," it said.

The report, issued this week, quoted sources as saying that Pakistan intended to double its arsenal in the next five to 10 years with the goal of having up to 350 weapons of varying yield. It further said Pakistan spent an estimated $2.2 billion on its nuclear weapons programme last year, up from $1.8 billion in 2010.

"Expenditure is projected to increase substantially due to maintenance costs for its new plutonium infrastructure," the report said. Reacting to the report, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said it was "highly exaggerated and part of an insidious propaganda campaign." "Pakistan's strategic programme was modest (and) aimed at maintaining a credible minimum deterrence to ensure national security," Basit said.

He said Pakistan's primary focus was on economic development and the welfare of its people.

"Pakistan was opposed to an arms race in South Asian or in any other part of the world," he said.



GCC investing in food security in Pakistan, India and others

DUBAI: March 08, 2012, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments are investing heavily in outside farmland acquisitions and leases, along with injecting money in domestic food production industry, to secure food supplies to the region and safeguard against market fluctuations.

Leading the way is Saudi Arabia, which is currently investing $23.1 billion in food security initiatives such as allocation of $12.3 billion to food processing sector development and provision of $6 billion in financial and oil aid to Pakistan in return for agricultural land.

UAE recently acquired or leased more than 1.4 million hectares of arable land in Pakistan, Sudan and Morocco, while investing $1.4 billion in the country’s value-added food manufacturing sector, resulting in 150 food processing plants. Figures were collated by research analysts Alpen Capital in build up to AGRA Middle East from April 2-4 at Dubai International Conference and Exhibition Centre. Region’s largest agriculture business trade event, AGRA Middle East will host over 180 international manufacturers, suppliers of agribusiness equipment and technology from 30 countries including Pakistan to showcase their products to importers, buyers and officials from across Middle East.

As part of plans to be completely self-sufficient by 2023, Qatar invested $5.1 billion in food security initiatives, including leasing 400,000 hectares of land in Kenya against $3.5 billion loan to Kenyan government, and setting up $1 billion joint venture with Vietnam to provide 90 percent funds for investment in various sectors, including agriculture. Ensuring food security remains one of most important issues for all GCC countries; according to Economist Intelligence Unit, six GCC states currently import 90 percent of all food products. High reliance on imports means the region is particularly vulnerable to price increases when supplies are interrupted. ppi



UK aid launches grant funds for education in Pakistan

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: March 08, 2012, The launch ceremony of a new education programme in Pakistan called ‘Ilm Ideas’, funded by UKaid from the British Department for International Development (DFID) was held on Wednesday. ‘Ilm Ideas’ is about nurturing ideas that work to improve learning, support progression and make schools responsive to what parents and children want.

Speaking at the event, UK High Commissioner Adam Thomson said that education is the UK’s top priority in Pakistan. He said two grant funds in support of the education sector in Pakistann sought to harness the creativity of the country’s entrepreneurs and private sector, the energy of citizens and civil society, and the experience and commitment of the governmental sector to improve access, learning and responsiveness of the system to what parents and children want.

The £6.3 million Education Voice and Accountability Fund and the Education Innovation Fund invite grant applications from organisations and entrepreneurs across the country. The two funds are part of a £645 million commitment for education in Pakistan from Ukaid.

The Education Voice and Accountability Fund will support research and advocacy initiatives to foster greater public demand for accountability and transparency in the education sector.



Syria's deputy oil minister defects from Assad regime


Amman 8 March 2012, Syria's deputy oil minister, Abdo Hussameldin, has announced his defection on YouTube, becoming the first high ranking civilian official to abandon President Bashar al-Assad since the uprising against his rule erupted a year ago.

"I Abdo Hussameldin, deputy oil and mineral wealth minister in Syria, announce my defection from the regime, resignation from my position and withdrawal from the Ba'ath party. I join the revolution of this dignified people," Hussameldin said in a YouTube video uploaded on Wednesday and seen early on Thursday.

"I say to this regime: you have inflicted on those who you claim are your people a whole year of sorrow and sadness, denying them basic life and humanity and driving Syria to the edge of the abyss," he said, adding the country's economy was "near collapse".

The authenticity of the video, which was taken at an undisclosed location, could not be immediately confirmed.

Assad appointed Hussameldin, 58, to his position through a presidential decree in 2009.

Wearing a suit and tie, Hussameldin looked relaxed as he stared directly into the camera in a tight head and shoulders shot, appearing to read from a prepared statement on his lap as he sat on a dark grey chair against a yellow background.

"I have been in government for 33 years. I did not want to end my career serving the crimes of this regime. I have preferred to do what is right although I know that this regime will burn my house and persecute my family," he said.

The government, which is controlled by Assad's minority Alawite sect, which has dominated power in Syria for the past five decades, has effectively stopped functioning in provinces that have been at the forefront of the uprising, such as Homs and the north-west province of Idlib, opposition sources say.

But public defections have remained rare among the civilian branches of the state. Assad's opponents attribute this to the tight control of the secret police and the fear of retribution against the families of any would-be defectors.

They point to what they say are several killings by Assad's forces of family members of high profile defectors from the military.

Thousands of mostly Sunni soldiers and conscripts, who make the bulk of the army, have deserted since the uprising broke out last March, with more officers deserting in the past months, although Assad still retains control of the main forces.

In late August, Muhammad al-Bakkour, the attorney general of the province of Hama declared on YouTube he had resigned in protest against the suppression of street demonstrations and the storming of the city of Hama by tanks.

Bakkour has not been heard from since and some opposition sources say the video was made under pressure from rebels.



Israel concerned about shift in status quo in Muslim world: Velayati   

TEHRAN, 08 March 2012  – Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, has said that the Zionist regime is making efforts to plunge Syria into turmoil because it is concerned about the fact that the status quo in the Muslim world is changing in favor of Muslims.

Velayati, who formerly served as Iran’s foreign minister, made the remarks in Tehran on Wednesday during a speech at the two-day meeting of the Assembly of Experts, which opened on Sunday.

In his speech, he said that certain Arab countries have joined in the efforts to isolate the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and destabilize the country.

Velayati, who is the director of the Permanent Secretariat of the World Assembly of the Islamic Awakening, added that the Islamic Awakening occurring in the region have put the Zionist regime in a quandary. 

At the end of the meeting, a statement was issued, in which the members of the Assembly of Experts wrote that the people should heed the Leader’s advice.



Indonesia wants to join BRICS

Mar 7, 2012

Indonesia plans to join BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), the country’s Ambassador to Russia stated on Wednesday. He emphasized Russia’s role on the global arena and the importance of the organization.

Indonesia which is the fourth most populated country in the world may expand BRICS’ influence both to Southeast Asia and the Islamic world as it’s one of the key members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

BRICS countries’ territory equals  40% of the globe and its joint GDP accounted for 18% of the global one in 2012.



US diplomat denies threats to Pakistan over IP gas line

ISLAMABAD: Dispelling the impression of US threat of sanctions on Pakistan over IP gas pipeline, US Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Hoagland Wednesday said that urge for gas is legitimate demand of Pakistan and the US is ready to help the country.

“The US has never threatened Pakistan with sanctions, Iran-Pakistan project is not a matter going to be implemented within a week or a month. We are ready to work with Pakistan on different options to help,” he told the media at the sideline of a roundtable discussion to commemorate ‘the services of women in law enforcement agencies’.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week warned Pakistan of sanctions if it pursued the IP gas pipeline.

The State Department spokesperson later said Clinton had not threatened Pakistan.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had rejected the threats, saying that Pakistan will not accept any pressure on the gas pipeline and relations with Iran.

“Sanctions were invoked against Iran,” the American diplomat said, adding that the US wants to help in resolving Pakistan’s energy crises.

When asked if the US Ambassador in Islamabad has delivered any special message to Pakistan over NATO supply, Hoagland said, “I assure there was no message.”

Replying to a question about the expiry of US agreements with Pakistan and Washington demands for further five-year extension, the veteran diplomat did not directly reply to the question, but he said that the issue will be discussed during the upcoming visit to Pakistan by Gen. James Mattis. He said that dates for the visit of Gen Mattis have not yet been announced.

He said the issues will be discussed during Gen. Mattis meeting with Pakistan army chief General Ishfaq Parvez Kayani.

Visits of the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman as well as Gen. Mattis were postponed after Islamabad sought a delay due to parliamentary review of future relationship with the US.

On policy toward Afghanistan, the US diplomat said that in fact the US and Pakistan are on same page. Like Pakistan, his country is also supporting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process in Afghanistan, the deputy chief said.



In bin Laden's lair, his wives split by suspicions

By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) March 8, 12 — Osama bin Laden spent his last weeks in a house divided, amid wives riven by suspicions. On the top floor, sharing his bedroom, was his youngest wife and favorite. The trouble came when his eldest wife showed up and moved into the bedroom on the floor below.

Others in the family, crammed into the three-story villa compound where bin Laden would eventually be killed in a May 2 U.S. raid, were convinced that the eldest wife intended to betray the al-Qaida leader.

The picture of bin Laden's life in the Abbottabad compound comes from Brig. Shaukat Qadir, a retired Pakistani army officer who spent months researching the events and says he was given rare access to transcripts of Pakistani intelligence's interrogation of bin Laden's youngest wife, who was detained in the raid.

Qadir was also given rare entry into the villa, which was sealed after the raid and demolished last month. Pictures he took, which he allowed The Associated Press to see, showed the villa's main staircase, splattered with blood. Other pictures show windows protected by iron grills and the 20-foot high walls around the villa.

Qadir's research gives one of the most extensive descriptions of the arrangements in bin Laden's hideout when U.S. SEAL commandos stormed in, killing bin Laden and four others. His account is based on accounts by an official of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency who escorted him on a tour of the villa, the interrogation transcription he was allowed to read, and interviews with other ISI officials and al-Qaida-linked militants and tribesmen in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

The compound where bin Laden lived since mid-2005 was a crowded place, with 28 residents — including bin Laden, his three wives, eight of his children and five of his grandchildren. The bin Laden children ranged in age from his 24-year-old son Khaled, who was killed in the raid, to a 3-year-old born during their time in Abbottabad. Bin Laden's courier, the courier's brother and their wives and children also lived in the compound.

The 54-year-old bin Laden himself seemed aged beyond his years, with suspected kidney or stomach diseases, and there were worries over his mental health, Qadir said he was told by ISI officials and an al-Qaida member he interviewed in the border regions.

Bin Laden lived and died on the third floor. One room he shared with his youngest wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, a Yemeni who was 19 when she married the al-Qaida leader in 1999. Another wife, Siham Saber, lived in another room on the same floor that also served as a computer room, Qadir told AP.

The arrival of his eldest wife, Saudi-born Khairiah Saber, in early 2011 stirred up the household, Amal said in her ISI interrogation, according to Qadir.

There was already bad blood between Khairiah, who married bin Laden in the late 1980s, and Amal because of bin Laden's favoritism for the younger Yemeni woman, Qadir said he was told by tribal leaders who knew the family.

Even ISI officials who questioned Khairiah after the raid were daunted by her.

"She is so aggressive that she borders on being intimidating," Qadir said he was told by an ISI interrogator.

Amal stayed close to bin Laden as he fled Afghanistan into Pakistan following the 2001 U.S. invasion. She took an active role in arranging protection for him and bin Laden wanted her by his side, the tribal leaders told Qadir.

Khairiah fled Afghanistan in 2001 into Iran along with other bin Laden relatives and al-Qaida figures. She and others were held under house arrest in Iran until 2010, when Tehran let them leave in a swap for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan's frontier city of Peshawar.

Khairiah showed up at Abbottabad in February or March 2011 and moved into the villa's second floor, Amal told her interrogators.

Khalid, bin Laden's son with Siham, was suspicious, according to Amal's account. He repeatedly asked Khairiah why she had come. At one point, she told him, "I have one final duty to perform for my husband." Khalid immediately told his father what she had said and warned that she intended to betray him.

Amal, who shared Khalid's fears, said bin Laden was also suspicious but was unconcerned, acting as if fate would decide, according to Qadir's recounting of the interrogation transcript.

There is no evidence Khairiah had any role in bin Laden's end. Accounts by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials since the May 2 raid have made no mention of her. Instead, U.S. officials have said the courier inadvertently led the CIA to the Abbottabad villa after they uncovered him in a monitored phone call.

The courier, a Pakistani known by his pseudonym Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, lived with his wife and four children on the villa's first floor. His brother, his wife and three children lived in a guest house in the compound. Al-Kuwaiti, his brother and the brother's wife were killed in the raid.

Bin Laden had two marriages before Khairiah that ended in divorce and had more than 20 children with his various wives.

Amal gave her interrogators details on bin Laden's movements after fleeing Afghanistan. Her account underscored that bin Laden did not stay long in Pakistan's tribal-run regions on the border where the United States long presumed he was holed up.

She and bin Laden hid for several months in 2002 in Salman Talab, a suburb of Kohat, a northwest Pakistani border town. There bin Laden was visited at least once by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind arrested in Rawalpindi on March 1, 2003.

Amal said they moved constantly to avoid being spotted for several months in South Waziristan, a border region. In 2004, she and other family members went to Shangla, a town in the Swat Valley, 80 miles (128 kilometers) northwest of the capital Islamabad. Bin Laden joined them by doubling back through Afghanistan because it was feared he could be identified if he crossed Pakistan.

Later in 2004, they moved to Haripur, only 20 miles (33 kilometers) from Islamabad, according to the interrogation transcripts. After several months there, they moved in the summer of 2005 to the villa in Abbottabad, a town 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the capital and home to a large military base.

ISI officials contacted by the AP refused to comment on Qadir's account. The wives and bin Laden family members who were in the villa during the raid remain in Pakistani custody.

Qadir, a 35-year veteran and now a security consultant, took it upon himself to research what happened in the May 2 raid. He relied on contacts in the ISI and in the border regions where he was long based.

An old friend who is a brigadier in the ISI allowed Qadir to read the transcripts of the interrogations of Amal. Qadir asked that the ISI brigadier not be identified because the information remains classified.

Qadir said he was allowed to visit the villa four times, most recently in November. He described the bin Laden bedroom, saying one wall was peppered with bulletholes and splattered with blood, which his ISI escort told him was from Amal, who was shot in the leg during the raid. There was also blood on the ceiling, which Qadir presumed was from bin Laden, who was shot through the eye.

Qadir said he was struck by the lack of defenses — no basement, no warning system, no escape routes.

"It was a death trap if it were ever attacked."



Saudi Telecom's home boom may trim foreign ambitions

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, March 8 (Reuters) - Saudi Telecom Co's (STC) rising domestic revenue, halting a downward trend for the former monopoly, may lead it to slow its overseas push where it faces a tougher operating environment and limited buying opportunities.

STC has won back domestic market share by aggressively pricing broadband bundle packages, while the firm - majority-owned by the government - has operations across the Muslim world from Turkey to Indonesia.

"We are concentrating on ICT (information communication technology) in our local market as well as in other markets we operate in," Saad al-Qahtani, group chief executive for strategic operations, told reporters at a conference in Doha. "We are more worried about that than expansion."

In March 2011, STC upped its stake in Indonesia's Axis to 80 percent and it has a minority holding in Malaysia's Maxis . But the main jewel in STC's foreign portfolio is its 35 percent stake in Oger Telecom, which in turn owns 55 percent of Turk Telekom.

When asked whether STC wanted to up its stake in Oger Telecom - majority owner the Hariri family is thought to be a willing seller - Qahtani said STC was talking internally about it, but no decision had been made.

"STC, like other Gulf operators, wants management control of their foreign subsidiaries and so they either up their stakes to get a majority shareholding or sell out altogether - no company wants to hold a minority stake for 10 years," said Marc Hammoud, Deutsche Bank telecoms analyst.

International revenue rose 9.8 percent last year, but group annual profit fell 19 percent to 7.67 billion riyals ($2.05 billion), largely due to 1.1 billion riyals of foreign exchange losses from its international operations.

"Other Saudi companies have been more successful in hedging against FX risk," said Asim Bukhtiar, Riyad Capital head of research. "STC say this is because it's tied up with partners and can't force them to hedge one way or another, which is one reason STC has sought majority control of its foreign units."

STC's foreign units provided 32 percent of revenue in 2011, the same as a year earlier and well short of its 50 percent target, while the firm's push abroad mirrors similar moves by other former Gulf monopolies, such as Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar Telecom.

They have often struggled outside their home region and away from the protection of a benign regulator, with markets in Asia and Africa more competitive and less affluent.

Yet STC, unlike Etisalat, has a growing home market in its favour. Domestic revenue rose 8 percent in 2011 as STC won back customers from Mobily and Zain Saudi.

"Capital expenditure for STC's foreign operations has been expensive, so if the company is doing well at home is there any need to expand internationally?" said Bukhtiar. "Expanding internationally also carries risks, whereas STC knows the Gulf markets and the regulatory environment here - it's much safer."

There is also a dearth of acquisition opportunities. Few new licences are expected in the Middle East and Africa and Gulf operators no longer seem keen on entering markets as the third or fourth player, while the cheap borrowing that fuelled the previous decade's spending splurge is a fading memory.

"STC is now only looking at acquisitions that will be profitable from day one - it doesn't want to pump in a load of money and then wait years for a return," added Bukhtiar.

"I see STC making acquisitions of companies providing peripheral services, such as data and content providers, rather than buying foreign mobile operators or new mobile licences."  (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Reed Stevenson)



Samjhauta blast accused Chauhan’s wife stages stir


INDORE: Mar 8, 2012,  The wife of Samjhauta express blast accused Kamal Chauhan, Seema, observed a day-long fast on Wednesday against the detention of her husband by the state police from February 9 to February 13 and subsequent arrest by the NIA.

Villagers of Moorkhedi village from where Seema hails also joined Seema in the fast and later submitted a memorandum to the SDM in Depalpur.

Advocate Amit Singh Sisodia said that the gathering at Depalpur was briefed about the illegality of detention. He said that a large number of villagers present on the occasion extended their support to Kamal Chauhan.

Seema is likely to move Panchkula court challenging the detention of her husband by the state government.



Syed Kirmani halted from entering cricket stadium in Pakistan

Press Trust of India

Karachi: 07 March 2012, Former India wicketkeeper-batsman, Syed Kirmani on Wednesday learnt that life after retirement, even for the most celebrated of athletes, is very different after he was stopped at the entrance of the National Stadium here.

Kirmani, who is here for a private visit, was stopped at the gate of the National stadium where he paid an impromptu visit to refresh old memories.

Wanting to visit the stadium where he played in 1976, the security staff at the stadium was unable to recognise Kirmani before a local journalist and former Test player, Rashid Khan came to his rescue.

"I can understand the reaction of the security staff. Obviously, they have their duties to look after," Kirmani said after he was finally recognised and guided into the stadium.

The journalist, who was on his way out, instantly recognised Kirmani who was standing at the main entrance and called down Rashid Khan, who then came to receive the former Indian cricketer on behalf of former Pakistan captain Wasim Bari.

Bari, who sits in the NSK, also played in the 1976 series and it was interesting to see him and Kirmani refresh old memories while they went around the stadium and had a cup of tea.

"I was going somewhere else but when the driver told me this is the National Stadium I decided I had to visit it and see it from inside," Kirmani said.

The former glovesman was all for having regular sporting ties between India and Pakistan.

"I think at the people to people level they are no problems. But political issues have affected sporting and cricketing ties. But I have always felt it is good if India and Pakistan play against each other as people of both the countries want to see this happen," Kirmani said.